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Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy:

Retrospective Comparison of Outcomes for Patients with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Based on Length of Postural Restrictions

McGinnis, Patricia Q. PT, MS, PhD1; Nebbia, Marissa SPT1; Saez, Lisa PT2; Rudolph, Katherine SPT1

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Purpose:: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo in older adults. The effectiveness of the repositioning maneuver as an intervention has been established in the literature; however, the efficacy of the posttreatment instructions has not been established. The purpose of this retrospective study was compare treatment outcomes for patients receiving 24 hour postural restrictions posttreatment versus 48 hour restrictions.

Methods:: Medical records of 76 patients diagnosed with BPPV at an outpatient physical therapy practice were reviewed. The average age was 61.05 years (SD 16.16). A positive outcome was determined by partial or complete resolution of symptoms, defined as a reduction in the number of special tests or positions that provoked symptoms from initial examination to discharge, as well as a reduction in vertigo intensity ratings.

Results:: Patients in both groups experienced significant reductions in the number of symptom provoking positions, positive special tests, and ratings of vertigo intensity following treatment. Mean ratings of vertigo intensity on a 10 point scale were 5.71 pre and 1.83 post for the 24 hour group, and 6.75 pre and 3.00 post for the 48 hour group. Positive treatment outcomes were experienced by 95.4% of patients in the 24 hour group (n=63), with 53% (n=35) achieving complete resolution.

Conclusion:: Patients experienced positive treatment outcomes regardless of the length of postural restrictions following repositioning maneuver for BPPV. Therapists can reduce the length of postural restrictions to 24 hours upright following a repositioning maneuver without adversely affecting patient outcomes.

Copyright © 2009 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association


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